Key Players in the Drew Peterson Trial
The Peterson case will serve as White’s judicial swan song. After nearly two decades on the bench, he has announced plans to retire in October.
This is Brodsky’s first murder trial, but the Chicago lawyer recently surrounded himself with crack criminal defenders after half his legal team left the case this year, citing conflicts. Abood told the Tribune he left because he didn’t think the case was winnable with “Joel playing a significant role.”
In response, Peterson sent a one-page, handwritten letter to the Tribune last week – his first comments to the press since 2009 – in which he praised his attorneys and downplayed any suggestion that his defense had been hampered by the recent shake-up.
It “turned out to be a blessing in disguise with Joel Brodsky assembling the finest team I have ever seen in my thirty-two years in law enforcement,” Peterson wrote in a rare jailhouse letter. “I feel safe with my life in their hands.”
Brodsky, who turns 53 this month, is a DePaul University law school graduate who started out in business and bankruptcy law before turning to criminal defense. The media-friendly attorney, whom Peterson retained shortly after Stacy vanished in 2007, will give the defense team’s opening statement, a responsibility he insisted on handling.
Brodsky’s partners include Lopez, an experienced criminal lawyer known for his vigorous defense of accused mobsters. His past client list includes mob hit man Frank Calabrese Sr., Latin King leader Fernando King and feared street boss Anthony “The Hatch” Chiaramonti.
Born and raised in Chicago’s Little Italy community, the former bodybuilder with a taste for fine tequila has long amused the Chicago press corps with his colorful quips and even more colorful wardrobe. Indeed, few lawyers would be bold enough to wear bright pink socks while defending hard-boiled mobsters.
Lopez will handle closing arguments in the case.
The defense team also includes Steven A. Greenberg, a prominent defense attorney who represented child killer Brian Dugan at his death penalty hearing last year. He is known for his versatile legal skills and has worked as an analyst for the Fox News Network and CNN.
Also on the case are Ralph Meczyk, who has decades of criminal defense trial experience, and Darryl Goldberg, a young, whip-smart former City of Chicago attorney.
While it may be as publicly reticent as its counterparts are gabby, the legal team prosecuting Peterson includes its own cast of characters, including a former judge, a financial whiz with a biology degree and a rising star just seven years out of law school.
They are led by Glasgow, a longtime prosecutor in his fourth elected term as state’s attorney who has dubbed Peterson a “hideous B-movie stalker.” He most recently took the helm in 2004, after Savio drowned in her bathtub, and hasn’t been shy about criticizing his predecessor’s handling of the case.
He will present prosecutors’ opening statements.
His office secured a court order to exhume Savio’s body after Stacy Peterson disappeared in 2007. Glasgow has said he believes Peterson killed Stacy, though Peterson has never been charged.
The task that prosecutors are facing is a tough one: convincing jurors beyond a reasonable doubt that Savio was murdered – despite her death first being ruled accidental by a coroner’s jury – and then that Peterson killed her, even with no physical evidence or eyewitnesses linking him to her death.
But the talented team of attorneys is confident of its case, planning to convey to jurors in detail how unlikely it would be for Savio to drown in her tub – perhaps by bringing it into the courtroom – and Savio’s fear that Peterson would kill her as they battled over finances and custody of their kids.
Notre Dame graduate John Connor, a formidable prosecutor with a laid-back demeanor, has led the grand jury investigation into both Savio’s death and Stacy’s disappearance. Kathy Patton, who is chief of the office’s felony division, is a skilled questioner able to keep an audience focused just with her tone of voice.
Nicole Moore, the fourth member of the team, joined the office in 2004, a year after graduating from Loyola University’s law school. She is already a top prosecutor, spending most of her time in one of the county’s busiest felony courtrooms.
Other prosecutors who will assist on the case are Robert Lorz, a respected former judge of 22 years who now heads the criminal division after retiring from the bench in 2008. Dant Foulk is a financial specialist with a biology degree who delved into the fiscal motivations Peterson had for allegedly killing Savio.
Dominica Osterberger, an appellate and post-conviction specialist, is charged with devising unassailable arguments on points of law. Ken Grey, Glasgow’s chief deputy, has decades of broad legal experience.